Monday, June 12, 2006

"3G For All" Programme Targets Cheaper Handsets

The GSM Association (GSMA) launched a "3G for all" initiative to establish a core set of common requirements for 3G handsets in order to create the economies of scale that will allow mobile phone suppliers to rapidly bring down end-user costs. Mobile phone suppliers are being encouraged to compete to design a 3G handset that meets the operators' common requirements. The GSMA will then endorse the winning handset, which will be widely deployed by operators participating in the initiative. Further details will be announced in October.

The "3G for all" initiative builds on the GSMA's Emerging Market Handset (EMH) programme, which has hit its goal to reduce the wholesale price of entry-level GSM handsets to less than $30 -- sparking the creation of a new segment of ultra-low cost phones. Motorola, the winning vendor in the EMH programme, expects to ship more than 20 million EMH handsets from launch in 2005 through to end of 2006. The EMH programme has helped bring the wholesale cost of GSM handsets in India down by more than 25% since last year, fuelling the growing use of mobile communications in rural areas.

Despite the fall in handset prices, the GSMA estimates that about a billion people worldwide won't be able to afford their own handset for the foreseeable future. Through its Development Fund, the GSMA is looking at how to extend the many benefits of mobile communications to these people. The Development Fund is financing a series of pilot projects in Africa and Asia that enable local entrepreneurs to set up payphone businesses or Internet cafes where people can access the Internet, email or other data services.

  • In September 2005, The GSM Association (GSMA) selected Motorola to serve for a second phase as the sole supplier of handsets for the Emerging Market Handset (EMH) program. Motorola will deliver low-cost mobile handsets based on its C11x mass market handset platform that are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of mass market consumers, including unparalleled battery life for increased talk and standby times, large displays and durable design.

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